General Question

millastrellas's avatar

Have you ever called your credit card company to lower your interest rate?

Asked by millastrellas (425 points ) January 5th, 2009

I have had my credit card since 2005 and have been trying to pay it off since, and it really isn’t a big debt, less than $1000. There have been times when I have even given more than half of my balance, and in the end I still end up not being near my goal of paying it off. I have been thinking about calling my bank to see if they would lower the interest, but again, I know I am at fault for having a past bad payment history ( Something I have been working on in the past year, though I have never not paid, just been late). And to top it off, I was late two days this this month. Do you all think I have a chance of them lowering my interest rate? I know I have nothing to lose, except being very upset and disliking my bank even more. Anyone else have any experiences or advice they’d like to share? Thanks!

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32 Answers

tonedef's avatar

Consumerist has tons of articles about credit rates and limits. And I’d agree that you have nothing to lose. Give them a call, but review consumerist first.\

Edit: Well, look at that! A script to use to lower your interest rate. :) Good luck! Keep up updated.

millastrellas's avatar

Thank you for the sites! Will keep updated.

Snoopy's avatar

@millastrellas. You should absolutely call them and talk to them….yes, they might say “no”....but it is worth a try!

Jeruba's avatar

Yes. I did this some years back, when I was carrying a large balance (which I hope never to do again). It involved about a 45-minute wait on the line before I got to a real person, but it was worth it.

My API was around 18%. I said, “I’ve been with you guys a long time. Please go look. I am always on time with my payments. I’m carrying an awfully high interest rate, and I heep getting these low-rate offers from other companies. Is there anything you can do for me?”

The nice young lady put me on hold for a minute, came back, and asked me if 9 1/2% would do.

If you have any kind of a rewards program that allows you to lower your API instead of receiving a premium, take it. Also, if you have several balances at different rates, pay down the one with the highest API the fastest because that’s the one that will cost you the most in the long run.

Snoopy's avatar

@Jeruba I agree w/ you….I believe you should pay down your highest interest rate debt first.

Some, however, advocate paying down the debts w/ the lowest amounts first (and in increasing order) to gain a “psychological advantage” via digging out of debt….to make you feel like you are making better progess….to keep going….

Whatever works!

millastrellas's avatar

My interest rate is a ridiculous amount of 25%. I am calling today (after work), no question about it. Again, thank you all for your answers.

jrpowell's avatar

I’m going to call my bank. I never thought about asking.

Snoopy's avatar

@millastrellas & JP: It is really no different than trying to change your ISP or your cell phone service. Threaten to leave (transferring debt to another significantly lower interest rate card) and they will generally fall all over themselves to keep you….Do the research to be able to name several credit cards and the interest rates, should the opportunity present itself in the conversation.

Good luck!

Jeruba's avatar

@Snoopy, there might well be a time and a psychological reason to do that, no question. In sheer dollars, though, the highest interest is going to cost you the most over time, not the highest balance, so it’s your best choice if your main concern is use of your resources.

Snoopy's avatar

@Jeruba I totally agree….but for some, if the other way works better—at least they are doing something….

If you have 10K of debt at 10% and less than $5K of debt spread across multiple loans/credit cards all w/ interest rates less than 10%.....it would make more fiscal sense to pay off the $10K first.

However, it might be more empowering (for some) to knock off the others first…decreasing the stress of phone calls, bills, etc.

I just post it as an alternative…

Jeruba's avatar

Not disagreeing with you, @Snoopy. Your amplification is sure to help someone.

basp's avatar

We’ve been successful at getting lenders to lower interest rates. You have to be armed with good information, a good reason why they should grant you the favor, and the patience of a saint.
The bottom line is that they stand to lose more if they get nothing from you than less from you.
I am glad to be able to say we are debt free now. (whew!)

millastrellas's avatar

Congratulations basp! Right now I worry about my small credit card debt, but after I am finished with school, I do not even want to think about my college debt that I will probably be paying for the rest of my life. :/

basp's avatar

Millastrellas
During the same time I paid off all of our credit cards, I also paid off my student loan. Having gone to college as adult with children and other responsibilities, this was quite a milestone for me. Now I feel like I can head for retirement with few worries.

AstroChuck's avatar

No, but I don’t carry a balance over so it doesn’t matter.

Mizuki's avatar

This is a function of bank weakness. All across the US now, millions of folks are getting their rates jacked and credit limits cut. The credit card portfolio’s are defaulting at rates never seen, banks realize they have lent unwisely and are now trying to save their own asses. At your expense.

millastrellas's avatar

I just called this morning, and unfortunately, the lady (trying to refrain from name calling) did not lower my interest rate. :[
I am pretty upset, yet I suppose I am the one at fault, for being late on my payments. grrr.

Snoopy's avatar

@millastrellas I am sorry to hear that….keep your chin up and keep digging…..

Is there any chance you can transfer the balance to a new lower interest rate card? Not a game I would really advocate playing….but it might help you in the short term…..

Mizuki's avatar

Many folks opt for debt settlement in such a situation. pm me if you want some info….

Jeruba's avatar

@Snoopy, @Milla, yeah, but watch out for that. Two big alerts there:

(1) You can find yourself billed for the same amount by both companies for the same period if the new company is really quick to pick up your balance and the old one is slow to take it off. This may or may not be because the new company takes its time paying off the old one.

(2) Low-APR transfer offers often come from sleazy outfits that are slow to post payments, ding you for huge penalties if your payment is a day late (even if you mailed it in plenty of time! how can you prove when they received it?), and jack your API way up after some initial period. These are also the guys that let you wait on hold for Customer Service for, like, two days before an unhelpful person (who may or may not speak your language) comes on the line.

Voice of experience talking on both counts.

As a general rule, we do not look at offers from any company with a return address of Wilmington, Delaware.

Mizuki's avatar

Bank of America, just this week, cut millions of credit limits, frozen at the current balance. Even if paid on perfectly.

The transfer game is just about over. The chicks are coming home to roost.

basp's avatar

Millistrellas
Call again and talk to someonehigher up. Keep asking for the person in the next higher position. Many times the first person does not have any authority to make that decision.
Keep bugging them. Sooner or later you will find the right person. Also, follow up in writing and keep documentation of all correspondence.

Mizuki's avatar

basp—the credit boom is over….they simply do not lower one’s rate if they have any lates or any risk factor or if the balance is more than 50% of the high credit limit. Prior to 2007 you could lower your rate, now one is lucky to have the credit—and may not have the credit tomorrow.

basp's avatar

Mizuki
I appreciate your opinion, but my experience has been different. I was able to get my rates lowered and it was very helpful.
In hard economic times like this, they will be happy to get something out of you than nothing.

Mizuki's avatar

Basp—when? as in what month/year?

basp's avatar

During the last nine months.

Mizuki's avatar

I believe that in the middle of 2008 the consumer’s had options that are no longer available…since Sept 2008 credit markets changed forever…thx

Snoopy's avatar

@Jerbua Great points. Not a trick I have ever tried (nor thankfully needed to…..)

millastrellas's avatar

Thanks again all. I think I will follow-up in a month again, and this time be more stubborn, yet friendly.

Kiev749's avatar

my rate went up since i’ve had my card… :(

millastrellas's avatar

@Kiev749, have you been late on payments?
I am sure that is a big cause of my rate increase. :/

Snoopy's avatar

@millastrellas Not only late on that particular card….but delinquency on other cards or mortgages, etc. can cause your rates to increase on any given card, FYI.

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